For the first time, one of the seven people convicted of killing Kent is telling her side of the story. Today she is a 35-year-old stay-at-home mother of four. Ali Willis was 17 when she helped plan the stabbing and beating death of her ex-boyfriend.
(Published Friday, Jul 15, 2011)
Bobby Kent’s murder in 1993 by a group of people, who said he was a bully and they were tired of his abuse, captured America’s attention.
For the first time, one of the seven people convicted of killing Kent is telling her side of the story.
Today she is a 35-year-old stay-at-home mother of four. Ali Willis was 17 when she helped plan the stabbing and beating death of her ex-boyfriend.
Willis said she was brought into the mix by her best friend, Lisa Connelly. Connelly was pregnant with the child of Kent's best friend Marty Puccio. In 1993, Puccio said he felt he'd "been pushed around" too much by Kent, claiming he was a bully.
Not too long after Willis met Kent, Puccio and Connelly started plotting murder. Broward County detectives said Lisa Connelly called her friend Willis to help in their plot and the group grew from there.
Detective Frank Ilarraza with the Broward County Sheriff's Office worked on the case.
"Ali requested others to come along and do it," Detective Ilarraza said. "It's like it didn't phase her. They had total disregard for human life."
But Willis said she thought she was just visiting friends. Her new boyfriend Donny Semenec and friend Heather Swallers came along. Lisa Connelly 's cousin, Derek Dzvirko, and a self-proclaimed hitman Derek Kaufman were also involved.
"Somebody said, 'Oh, why don't you just kill him.' You know, a flipping off the wall joke," Willis told NBC Miami.
Detectives said their original plan was Willis would meet Bobby Kent at a construction site in Weston and shoot him.
"I never had a gun," Willis said. "Lisa did have a gun on her. The gun was just there."
The next night, the "Broward Seven" as they became known, tricked Kent into coming back to the construction site in Weston. He thought they were drag racing, and Willis said she thought she was there to witness a fight, not murder.
"I got beat by that man," Willis said. "So yeah, I wanted to see him get beat up. I wanted him to know how it feels."
What happened that night was made into a movie called "Bully" and Willis said the murder scene portrayed in it is accurate. Willis acted as bait, leading Kent into a trap. It all started with Willis' new boyfriend, Donny Semenec, stabbing Kent in the neck.
"What I remember after that was he screaming at Marty, Bobby's yelling at Marty: 'Get him, get him. Do something, do something. He hit me, he hit me,'" Willis said. "I remember standing there, and I seen Marty go like this. To me, it looked like he hauled off and hit him. I'll never forget the look on his face when this happened. I looked down and there was blood everywhere ... and he was holding his stomach ... and I just froze."
Marty Puccio stabbed Kent multiple times and slit his throat twice. Finally, Derek Kaufman, who didn't even know Kent, went after him with a baseball bat.
The lead detective at the time, Ilarraza said in his 30 years on the job, it is the most shocking case he has ever worked.
"This was very personal," Ilarraza said. "They got right on him - where you could smell him, where you could hear him breathing - and that's when they savagely killed him."
Four days later, Lisa Connelly's cousin Derek Dzvirko confessed, leading police to Kent's body.
"As soon as I got out of the car, you could smell the decomposing body," Ilarraza said.
After her sons murder, Farah Kent told NBC Miami, she thought Willis was the mastermind, a lover scorned.
"He didn't want to see her anymore," Kent said. "That's why I think the whole thing happened."
But in court, it was proven that it was Kent's best friend Marty Puccio, and his girlfriend Lisa Connelly behind the murder plan, but all seven helped carry it out.
In 1993, a detective said, "If one of these people simply said, 'No. This is wrong,' I think the whole group would've backed off their plans."
Wiliis told NBC Miami, she doesn't know why she didn't say anything to stop it.
"It was fear, but it was almost like being in a trance," Willis said.
Marty Puccio, Donny Semenec and Derek Kaufman were all sentenced to life in prison. The four who were part of the planning but did not attack Kent, are now all out of jail.
Willis, originally sentenced to 40 years, served eight.
"I do think I should have gotten some prison time," Willis said. "I do agree with that totally, but I don't believe I got off easy." "It was a big deal, but I didn't kill him … I honestly didn't believe that he would end up dead. How can you feel remorse for something you didn't do?"
But being a mom, Willis said she does feel sorry for Kent's parents.
"I would tell them I'm sorry I was there, I'm sorry I never said anything," she said. "I am sorry I didn't try to stop it. I am sorry I didn't say something."
Willis was the only one of the Broward Seen who agreed to an interview. She said she does not keep in touch with any of the others.
Kent's parents still live in Broward County. They declined an interview saying it's been 18 years and they are ready to put their son’s murder behind them.